REVIEW – Ever since I tested and reviewed the ZimaBoard I have been using it non-stop as a NAS. I know that it is capable of more and my intention was to eventually add larger drives for more storage to accommodate all the photos, videos, video editing, and other social media content that both my wife and I generate. I was about the rebuild the ZimaBoard setup when I got the offer to test and review the newer design called the ZimaBlade.
What is it?
The ZimaBlade Short is an x86 personal server designed for local execution and it can control and manage applications like file sharing, media playback, key management, and encrypted P2P transmission. It features Gigabit Ethernet, an external PCIe slot, SATA ports, and USB ports.
What’s in the box?
- 1 x ZimaBlade
CPU: Intel Celeron Quad Core Processor (Turbo Speed 2.2GHz)
RAM: SODIMM Slot, compatible with 16GB DDR3L
STORAGE: Integrate 32GB eMMC
ETHERNET: 1x Gigabit Ethernet
COOLING: Passive Cooling
TDP: 6W / 10W
DISPLAY: 1x Type-C DisplayPort 4k@60Hz; 1x Mini-DisplayPort1.2 4k@60Hz
PORTS: 1x PCIe 2.0 4 Lane; 1x USB 3.0 Type-C; 1x USB 3.0 TYPE-A; 2x USB 2.0 internal; 2x SATA 6.0 Gb/s
GRAPHICS: Graphics Frequency Up to 750 MHz
GRAPHICS FEATURES: Supports Intel® Quick Sync Video, Intel® Clear Video HD Technology, Intel® Clear Video Technology
OTHER: Supports Intel® AES New Instructions, Intel® Virtualization Technology (VT-x); Intel® Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (VT-d)
DIMENSIONS: 107 x 80 x 23mm
POWER: 12V/3A USB Type-C Power
Design and features
The Zimablade is housed in a small compact plastic case with a clear see-through top. All of the ports are external including the PCIe port.
To set up the ZimaBlade, the first thing that I did was install the 8GB memory chip that they included in the kit
Once I installed the memory, I had to decide how I wanted to use this device. I really needed to expand my NAS capability, and I decided that I would give my wife the previous ZimaBoard for her use only and I would build a new NAS for my needs with much more storage than the 1TB that she has with the ZimaBoard. Since I have 10GB switches, I wanted to take advantage of the external PCIS slot on this device as well and use a 10GB PCIE ethernet card. Once was included with the kit that ZimaBlade sent, but the interface is RJ45 and I wanted to use SFP+. So, I purchased a 10GB SFP+ network card, plugged it into the PCIE slot, and was ready to go. The next consideration was the Operating System, I know that I can use Windows Tiny 11 or even a Linux build, but ever since I got exposed the the CASA OS that was installed on the ZimaBoard, I was hooked on it. I was very pleasantly surprised when I realized that CASA OS also came preinstalled on the ZimaBlade. Also included with the kit was a drive rack that could hold 2 3.5 NAS Drives. I already had 2 x 2TB Western Digital RED NAS drives on hand so I plugged them in and was off to the races. Setting them up for use in the CASS OS is simple and within minutes, I had a 4TB NAS ready to go.
I simply love this ZimBkade, and I actually like it a bit more than the ZimaBoard because of the case. CASA OS never seems to fail or even hiccup.
Keep in mind that ZimaBlade also included PCIE cards, for WiFi, SATA x 5, a really fantastic 2.5GB x 4 port ethernet card, and 4 channel USB adapter. rather than keep changing the use of the NAS that I built and really need, I will quench my thirst by buying several ZimaBlades. I have ideas that will take advantage of the 4 x 2.5GB card and more. For those of you who are looking for a robust and efficient Plex Server, IMHO, this ZimaBlade is the answer. And in case you are wondering, it is absolutely silent.
Screenshot of the main screen of CASA OS installed on this ZimaBlade:
What I like
- It is small, compact, and lightweight
- It has some options to upgrade
- The external Pcie port
- The versatility
- It can work with various Operating Systems
- It is powerful enough to be used in various ways
What I’d change
- Nothing right now. Love it
The ZimaBlade is an amazing affordable answer to my specialized computer/network needs. The external PCIE port is simply a brilliant design and the device works 24 hours a day every day connected to my network with no issues. I will be buying more, and I am excited to execute some of the ideas I have to use the ZimaBlade. Very well done and two thumbs up!!